Turkey referendum: Voting underway for nation's historic constitutional reform

Namrata Tripathi
Turkey referendum: Voting underway for nation's historic constitutional reform

The Turkish people, on Sunday morning, headed to polling booths to cast their votes for the country's historic referendum, which will determine whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be granted new sweeping powers, or not.

Erdogan, through the referendum, is seeking to change Turkey's constitution by replacing the current parliamentary system with an executive presidency.

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Erdogan has been campaigning for 'Yes' votes, because if Turkey votes in support of the constitutional reforms, not only will he get extensive powers, he could also remain in office till 2029. The proposed changes will allow Erdogan to run for two more terms.

An executive presidency will give Erdogan enhanced powers to appoint cabinet ministers, issue decrees, choose senior judges and dissolve parliament. Erdogan has campaigned hard in support of the changes, arguing that the reforms are necessary to make the Turkish government strong and decisive.

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The Turkish president said that the current governing system often leads to fragile coalition governments, who fail to address security challenges.

Around 55 million people are eligible to vote in the referendum across 167,000 polling stations. The results are expected to be announced late Sunday evening, according to reports.

Speaking at one of his final rallies in Istanbul's Tuzla district, Erdogan told supporters that the new constitution would "bring stability and trust that is needed for our country to develop and grow. Turkey can leap into the future," he said.

The polling is taking place when Turkey is in a state of emergency, which was imposed after a failed coup in July last year. The nation is polarised, as many fear that if Erdogan wins in the polls, he will continue his crackdown on various institutions, including academia, which has seen thousands of people being arrested over the past few months.

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